CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Tuesday, September 6, 2016, the House will consider H.R. 3839, the Black Hills National Cemetery Boundary Expansion Act, under suspension of the rules. The bill was introduced on October 27, 2015, by Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD) and was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, which ordered the bill reported, as amended, on June 15, 2016 by unanimous consent.
H.R. 3839 permanently transfers administrative jurisdiction over certain Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land from the Secretary of the Interior to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs for inclusion in the Black Hills National Cemetery.
Suspension text of H.R. 3839 that will be considered on the Floor clarifies the process for the administrative transfer of land, establishes responsibility for any contamination of the land, and clarifies a boundary setback, all of which represents negotiations between the VA and BLM that took place after the bill was reported out of the Committee.
The Black Hills National Cemetery opened in 1948 and covers approximately 100 acres of land managed by the National Cemetery Administration. The Cemetery houses a memorial carillon and a memorial of Korean War veterans that was dedicated in 2002.
H.R. 3839 permanently transfers jurisdictional authority of approximately 200 acres of undeveloped federal land outside Sturgis, South Dakota from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to expand the Cemetery. With its existing acreage, the Cemetery can accommodate only a finite number of additional burials. The BLM land adjacent to the Cemetery will provide for burial space for hundreds of additional gravesites for future generations of veterans. Without the transfer, the National Cemetery Administration would be forced to close the Cemetery to further burials. Further, without legislation to make the transfer permanent, federal law limits an administrative transfer of the land from BLM to the VA to just 20 years.
According to the bill’s sponsor, “The Black Hills National Cemetery is but one way our nation shows its deep gratitude to those who have served. With this legislation, I want to assure today’s veterans and service members, as well as their families, that we will be able to uphold our commitment and offer this nation’s eternal gratitude for all they have done.”
 See Committee on Natural Resources memo, “Legislative hearing on H.R. 3839 (Rep. Kristi Noem), To transfer administrative jurisdiction over certain Bureau of Land Management land from the Secretary of the Interior to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs for inclusion in the Black Hills National Cemetery, and for other purposes.” May 12, 2016 at 1.
 Id. at 2.
 See. Rep. Noem’s Press Release, “Noem bill to expand BHNC advances in the House” June 21, 2016.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that enacting H.R 3839 would have no significant effect on the federal budget. Pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply, and CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 3839 would not increase net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2027.
For questions or further information please contact Jake Vreeburg with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 5-0190.